Station history

This station covers the south side of the Pentland Firth and the north coast of Scotland to Cape Wrath.  The station is rather exposed and rehousing of the boat is often difficult.

1830

Silver Medal awarded to John Morgan, coastguard, for a service to the brig Mary of Stornoway wrecked off Thurso in a storm on 11 January 1830.  With two other coastguards Mr Morgan rigged a rope and brought the Master, Mate and three seamen safely ashore.  These men had been in the rigging upwards of seven hours.

1835

Silver Medal to Mr Benjamin Sinclair for a service to the schooner Hunter of Leith that was driven onto rocks with seas breaking over her on 8 December 1834.  Mr Sinclair and eight other volunteers went off in a boat and rescued the Master and the crew of five that were clinging to the rigging.

1840

Silver Medal awarded to Mr John Smith for the going into the surf, and rescuing seven men from two fishing vessels wrecked on rocks in a heavy storm on 3 May 1840.

1848

Silver Medal awarded to Robert Williamson, a fisherman, for assistance given to the crew of the Britannia wrecked at Thurso on 23 August 1847.  Mr Williamson was among the first on the scene and in an operation lasting two and a half hours rescued five crew by rope although he was repeatedly knocked down by the violent sea.

1856

Silver Medal awarded to Donald Thompson for putting off on two occasions and rescuing at considerable risk two of the crew of the Russian brig Ahti on 26 September 1856.

1860

Lifeboat house constructed at a cost of £103.

1876

Signal gun supplied.

1886

Silver Medal awarded to the coxswain, John Brims, in recognition of his long and valuable services in saving life from shipwreck.

1894

Second-service Clasp to Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain John Brims, who resigned because of his age after 34 years as coxswain and who had assisted in the rescue of 304 lives.

1901

Carrige withdrawn.

1906

New lifeboat house and slipway constructed just outside Scrabster Harbour at a cost of £2,278.  Office of Woods and Forrests paid £40 for old lifeboat house.

1910

Provision and fixing of new winch £124.

1921

Owing to distance (2 ½ miles) from Thurso to Scrabster where the boat is stationed, the crew were allowed 1d travelling money on each occasion of service and exercise.

1931

Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain Angus McPhail, in recognition of his courageous conduct, promptitude and skilful seamanship in the rescue of the crew of four of the Schooner Pet of Chester, wrecked on Brims Ness on 18 March1931.  On a dark foggy night in a strong breeze the lifeboat veered down but could not get near the casualty so a breeches buoy was rigged and one man was taken off.  Hearing that the others three men were too elderly to come of this way Coxswain McPhail managed to take the lifeboat alongside the wreck and lifted the men off before drawing clear.  This service was the first occasion on which a night tracer was used.

1944

Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain John McLeod, for rescuing two survivors from two rafts of the Norwegian steamer Freidberg whose cargo of grain had shifted off Cape Wrath and which had foundered in a northerly gale with high seas, sleet and snow.  The service was carried out at great risk and the coxswain had handled the lifeboat with splendid seamanship, daring and resource.  Coxswain McLeod was also awarded the BEM.

1953

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Cox Angus Macintosh in recognition of his determination, skill and initiative when the lifeboat launched at 0230 to search extensively in treacherous tidal water for survivors from the trawler Leicester City that was aground off Hoy in a heavy swell and thick fog on 22 March.  Also a Vellum accorded to the Stromness coxswain for his part in this service.

1955

The Thurso Ladies’ Guild and the lifeboat crew organised a Gala Week which raised over £1,000 for the service.  Thurso has a population of 3,343.

1956

With the introduction of car hire (10/-) for services and exercises, travelling money to crew ceased.

On the morning of 10 December the lifeboat ON920 Dunnet Head and lifeboat house were totally destroyed by fire.  The destruction was so complete that no evidence was available to show the cause of the outbreak.  This lifeboat was the first of the 47ft class and had been named by HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

1960

A Centenary Vellum awarded.

1971

HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother named the new Thurso lifeboat The Three Sisters at the Hotel Quay, Scrabster Harbour, on 11 August.

1982

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Second Coxswain John Manson in recognition of his seamanship and determination when the lifeboat The Three Sisters under his command gave assistance to the fishing vessel Coronella, which was making water just west of the Men of Mey rocks in a strong westerly wind and a rough sea on 7 September.

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain Ross Farquhar, in recognition of his seamanship and determination when the lifeboat The Three Sisters gave assistance to the trawler Arctic Crusader which had broken adrift in Scrabster Harbour and, being unable to start her engines, was carried rapidly towards the beach in a north westerly storm and a very rough sea on 16 November.

1989

HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother named the new Thurso lifeboat The Queen Mother at Scrabster Harbour on 9 August.

1997

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Second Coxswain William Donald Munro in recognition of his leadership, skill and seamanship, when the fishing vessel Aztec was disabled due to a fouled propeller in gale force westerly winds and heavy seas on 15 September 1997.  The lifeboat The Queen Mother left her berth at 1153 and in weather deteriorating to a Force 10 Storm arrived on scene at 1443 to find the fishing vessel Vigilant towing the casualty towards Scrabster.  The lifeboat escorted both vessels until at 1840 the tow parted at which time the lifeboat, with some difficulty, secured a line and recommenced passage.

1999

Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain William Farquhar for his part in a service to the burning chemical tanker Multitank Ascania on 19 March.  Coxswain Farquhar managed to take the 102 metre long tanker in tow as it drifted out of control in a west-north-westerly Force 9 Strong Gale, hail showers and rough seas.  By the time the lifeboat established a tow the tanker was close inshore at Dunnet Head and was within two cables of land before the lifeboat was able to slowly tow it seawards.  A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution Mr David Acland, was presented to the coxswain and crew of the Longhope lifeboat, the pilot and crew of RAF helicopter Rescue 137, and the Master and crew of the Orkney Harbour tug Einar for their contribution to this service.  The Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners Royal Benevolent Society awarded their Emile Robin Award for 1999 to Coxswain Farquher for this service.

2001

A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, Mr Peter Nicholson was awarded to Coxswain William Farquar for the rescue of the crew of four and the saving of the fishing vessel Poseidon on the evening of 8 September 2001.  This service was conducted initially close inshore, and in gale force winds gusting to Force 9/10.  Once clear of the shore, crew-members from the lifeboat were transferred to the Poseidon by the Scrabster harbour launch, as the fishing vessel’s skipper had been seriously injured.  The Station Honorary Secretary of Thurso, Mr Brian Williams, who was in command of the harbour launch, received a Letter of Appreciation signed by the Chief Executive for his role and the two crew members who boarded the Poseidon received letters from the Operations Director.

2002

A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution, Mr Peter Nicholson was presented to Coxswain William Munro for his contribution to the saving of the fishing vessel Faith Ann and her crew of five on the night of 26 April.  The Thurso lifeboat took over the tow in arduous weather conditions and successfully brought her into Thurso.

2004

The new station Severn class lifeboat ON1273 The Taylors was placed on service on 7 April.  This lifeboat was funded by the generous bequest of Mrs Vera Rita Eliza Taylor together with the bequest of Miss Agnes Anita Cluness.

New pontoon berth completed in June at a cost of £171,511.

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Second Coxswain Duncan (Dougie) Munro in recognition of his leadership, seamanship and courage when the lifeboat established a tow and took the live fish carrier Arnoytrans to safety on 27 August..  The service was undertaken in atrocious weather conditions in the notorious Merry Men of Mey tidal races.  The Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners Royal Benevolent Society awarded their prestigious Lady Swaythling Trophy for outstanding seamanship in 2004 to Coxswain Munro for this service.

2009

The Trustees voted the award of a 150th year Vellum to the station in 2010.

MEDAL RECORD

Nine Medals have been awarded, seven Silver and three Bronze.  The last being voted in 1999.

FOREIGN AWARDS

The German government awarded iron plaques and diplomas to coxswain, second coxswain and bowman, and certificates of appreciation to the crew, for services to the ss Aaso of Hamburg on 16 March 1928.